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Once Upon a Time recap: All about sacrifice in 'An Apple Red as Blood'

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Season 1, episode 21

There were some nice nuggets that I really appreciated about this episode - chiefly the revelation of how the curse can be broken. Overall, though, 'An Apple Red as Blood' was a rather meandering instalment which wasn't helped by the fact that we already know what happens to these characters in the Enchanted Forest.

The problem with the flashbacks this week is that they don't add anything of value. Picking up where 'Heart of Darkness' left off several episodes ago, Prince Charming is saved from execution but is in turn held by the Evil Queen. Regina then presents Snow White with a harsh choice: eat the poisoned apple or agree to let Charming die.

Once Upon A Time s01e21: 'An Apple Red As Blood'

© ABC / Jack Rowand



Having seen Charming wake Snow from her deep slumber in the pilot, it's tricky to care too much about Snow's sacrifice knowing that she will be saved. And furthermore, the events that precede it (Snow and her allies - dwarves, fairies, Red Riding Hood/the Big Bad Wolf - launching an assault on King George's residence) were filler.

Once Upon a Time's characters and their emotions are consistent, which is always crucial when you're trying to maintain a believable world, but things get a bit rote when the same characteristics pop up. We know Snow and Charming are willing to do anything for their true love. We've seen it several times over the course of the first season. (Sidenote: The action scenes were largely disappointing and lacking any real tension, but the novelty of seeing badass Ginnifer Goodwin hasn't quite worn off yet.)

I did, however, love that the Evil Queen revealed the truth to Snow about Daniel, when he had his heart mercilessly ripped out by Cora in the excellent 'The Stable Boy'. That Regina still has this burning hatred for Snow adds a neat layer to the Storybrooke scene where she gives up Daniel's ring for the sake of maintaining the curse.

Once Upon A Time s01e21: 'An Apple Red As Blood'

© ABC / Jack Rowand



So Snow takes a bite out of the apple. Dropping it as she falls, the fruit rolls into a portal straight into Jefferson/the Mad Hatter's hand in our world (good to see Sebastian Stan again after 'Hat Trick'). Regina had used the last bit of magic in her possession to get him to bring the apple so she can poison Emma.

Emma spends much of the episode oblivious, instead being conflicted over what's really best for her son Henry. It's quite the dilemma: though we know Emma needs to stick around to break the curse, it's understandable for her to doubt the influence she has over Henry. And say what you will about Regina, you can't deny that she has a genuine affection for the boy. In the end, Emma pays a visit to her rival and says she'll leave town as long as she gets to see Henry from time to time. For Regina, though, that's not enough and she 'kindly' gives Emma an apple turnover...

Only, it's Henry that becomes the victim. He is desperate to prove that he's right about the fairytale world and falls to the floor as he consumes the snack. Surely Emma must start to believe now?

Once Upon A Time s01e21: 'An Apple Red As Blood'

© ABC / Jack Rowand



'An Apple Red as Blood' does present a few interesting questions. Whose kiss will resurrect Henry? And the sword that Emma wielded in Regina's dream sequence - is there any significance to it? But what's particularly intriguing is the twist that the curse depends on Emma being alive. In an episode that is all about sacrifice - from Snow's actions to Regina's ring to Henry and the apple turnover - is the show implying that for Emma to save all of the characters, she needs to make the ultimate sacrifice?

For as much as I thought the fairytale stuff was largely irrelevant, I see a lot of potential in Storybrooke and I'm rather excited to see how the writers can push on and deliver in next week's finale 'A Land Without Magic'.

What did you think of the episode? Leave your comments below!

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